Joseph Prewett, part 2

So, I consulted early tax records for Washington County and I looked for Joseph’s in all of Kentucky’s counties prior to 1830 in census and published histories, genealogies, and transcribed records by the DAR.  And here is what it uncovered…

I reached 11 possible candidates, at least two pairs may be the same men in different counties.   I definitively ruled out five due to their years of birth or death, wives names, or records occurring in same years as each other with no other correlation to Washington or Marion County.  I am now down to five candidates, two of whom may be the same man in different counties. 

Washington/Marion County Joseph

Focusing on just the one Joseph in Washington/Marion County (I will merge these two counties from here on out because the Prewett trail starts in Washington County which formed Marion County), if all the entries are for the same Joseph, this man was in Washington/Marion County as early as 1805, which is the same year Meredith Prewett was born.  In every year this man paid taxes, he is not a land owner, only has one man over 21 in his household for every tax year, has at least 1 enslaved male under 16 up until 1812, and anywhere from 1-4 horses in any given year.  This suggests his sons were independent before their 21st birthdays OR he never had sons.  

The census suggests it is more likely that he did have sons who were independent by their 21st birthday.  He is found in three census in Washington/Marion County.  In 1810, his household consisted of 1 male 16-25 (probably under 21) and 5 males under 15; in 1820 2 males 10-15 (the ages of Meredith and Redmon); and in 1830 he is aged 70-79 and living alone with 1 enslaved male.  The 1830 census places his birth as between 1751 and 1760.  As mentioned in my previous post, this census also is problematic because he is living alone and has no tick mark for a wife.  Three probabilities exist, 1) this is not the correct Joseph, 2) Polly is enumerated in the household of one of her children; or 3) there is more than one Joseph in Washington County who only paid taxes on horses and enslaved men (note, there was one year that a Joseph paid taxes on acreage along Buck Fork.)

This Joseph paid his taxes near the same time as other Prewetts in Washington/Marion County.  In each year, he is within 1-5 lines of either Meredith, Redmon, Allen (no acreage), James (on Cartwright’s Creek), John Jr (Buck Fork), and Richard (no acreage).  The first years that Meredith (age 23) and Redmon (age 24) paid taxes are the same years they paid taxes next to Joseph (respectively).  The year Allen married Nancy Drain is the first year he paid taxes next to Joseph, he was 20 year old.

Joseph’s tax and census entries correspond with Allen’s most often. Meredith also married a Drain girl, Martha.  Both girls are reportedly daughters of Thomas Drain who is also found in both Washington and Marion Counties.  Allen’s birth is estimated to be 1801, and he may be paying taxes on 1 horse by the time he is 18 (though taxes count his age as at least 21 – older Allen?).  

Portion of my larger timeline file that places events and dates into a visual chart for easy analysis to identify correlations and possible associations. The red boxes indicate events that are out of pattern, which could indicate a potentially different person. This chart is much to large to try to include in a blog, and it includes Allen, James, John Sr. and all other Prewitt’s mentioned to support how I came to some conclusions.

I can’t tell if Allen, husband of Nancy Drain, is the same man who was named by John Sr. as his son.  There were definitely two different Allen’s in Washington/Marion County, though the older Allen did not appear to stay after John Sr’s death.  In 1819, an Allen Prewitt paid taxes right after William J Prewitt (Rolling Fork).  In that same tax year, William J.’s will was witnessed and proved by Allen Prewitt.  William J. Prewit bought a part of John Sr’s Rolling Fork land in 1809.  John Sr. left a will that named a son, Allen and grandsons, John and William (the online image was very faint, so I will have to go to the courthouse to see the original).  I suspect the younger Allen (husband of Nancy Drain) is Joseph’s son, and the older Allen, who paid taxes in 1807 and maybe 1819 then disappears, is John Sr’s son who was the witness for William J’s 1819 will. 

In 1825 James Prewett (on Cartwright’s Creek) dies and Joseph, Redmon (age 18), and Meredith (age 20) all purchase items from his estate.  All of these inter-connected patterns suggests some kind of relationship among the Washington/Marion County Prewetts.

Snippets of James Prewitt’s estate sale showing Redmon Prewitt who purchased a bay horse, Meredith Prewitt who purchased harness related gear, and Joseph Prewitt who purchased an axe.

Hardin County Joseph

What about the other four Joseph’s?  There was a Joseph in Hardin County.   Well, more accurately, a woman named Nancy J. Prewett married in Hardin county in 1836 with a written consent from her father, Joseph.  This consent was witnessed under oath by Meredith Prewett.  In 1839, a man named Joseph paid taxes in Hardin County on 1 horse.  The 1840 census does have a Joseph Prewitt, but it gives his age as 30-39.  There is one other household member, a woman aged 80-89.  Could this be a clerical error on Joseph’s age?  The woman could be his wife Polly.  So, Joseph of Hardin County “could be” the same Joseph who left Washington/Marion County by 1835.  And guess who his Hardin County neighbor was?  Thomas Drain.

Nancy and her husband are found in Breckenridge County in the 1840 census along with Allen Prewitt one page away.  Both households remain in Breckenridge in 1850.

But no sign of Joseph between 1840 and 1844 in Hardin, Breckenridge, or Washington County!

Fayette/Shelby County Joseph

Of the remaining three Josephs, there was one in Fayette County and one in Shelby County.  According to heavy research published by others (multiple publications with good source citations), these are the same men and their children, births, and deaths are pretty well written about (though I still need to validate what my impressions are telling me).  As mentioned before, I ruled out Joseph of Shelby County because his census tick marks don’t agree with the family makeup I am looking for.  The last candidate was a Jas or Jos in Jefferson County who is not looking old enough depending on if I my feelings are correct.  I’ll keep these three Joseph’s in my periphery – just in case.

Mercer County Joseph

I firmly ruled out Mercer County Joseph (mentioned in my previous post), brother of Anthony and Isham Jr., after locating additional records that name his wife as Jane Little who died in 1835, he had no daughter named Nancy, and he reportedly died in 1840 after living his entire life in Mercer County.

My Theory

Considering the patterns I am seeing, I strongly believe that Joseph Prewett, who paid taxes in Washington/Marion County between 1805 and 1835 is the father of Meredith and Redmon Prewett.  Further, I believe that Allen Prewett, who married Nancy Drain in Washington County, is also a son of Joseph as well as James Prewitt who died in 1825 and from whose estate Joseph, Meredith, and Redmon purchased items.  Lastly, I believe the father of Nancy J. Prewitt, who married Samuel McGuffin in Hardin County, is the same Joseph Prewett from Washington/Marion County.

Joseph Prewett of Washington/Marion County, could be a brother of John Prewitt Sr., the father of John Jr., William J., and Allen (the elder).

The last frontier – DNA

So, I turned to DNA and we have three autosomal matches to a man, his son, and his daughter.  All are estimated as 2nd to 4th cousins.  These folks descend from a Virginian named Joseph Pruitt.  Don’t get excited. 

This Joseph was reportedly born about 1790 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia and died in 1894 in Rockcastle County, Kentucky.  This Joseph may be a son of William who died in Pittsylvania, VA in 1830 (see Major and Smith next).  This Joseph did marry a woman named Mary Booker.  And wouldn’t you know it, that name is still used today, as a first and middle name, in my mother-in-law’s family. Although I have found an error with this Joseph. A Joseph married Mary F. Booker in Pittsylvania County, VA in 1790, so they can’t be the same man if he was born in 1790 – perhaps I captured a wrong date somewhere?

The father of this tri-DNA match is a generational peer to my mother-in-law. If the most recent common ancestor turns out to be the father of Joseph (1790-1894), that would make him a 7th cousin to my mother-in-law.  A far call from 4th cousin.  The numbers may be getting goobered up (my own technical terminology) by some probable Booker and maybe Drain DNA matches.  This is an example of how inaccurate autosomal DNA matching could be.

Y-DNA Match

So, I did a Y-DNA test on my mother-in-law’s brother (Uncle K).  He had one match to a man named Pruitt at the Generational Distance of 0 or “Exact Match”.  Ooooo, promising…but be prepared for disappointment.  This man claims to descend from Elijah Pruett b. 1770, d. 1816, no places provided.  No tree is posted so I am having to cyber stalk the fellow to try and validate his claim.  Don’t worry, I do know this person is now deceased, so I am not really “stalking” him anymore.   Or am I?

Uncle K has two GD-1 matches to Pruitt’s, but the most recent common ancestor seems to be pretty far back.  After this the match surnames become Morris and a few other surnames…no, nope, nope…can’t think about that now.

But does any of this help?  Nope!

So what other correlations did I stumble upon?  Two men named Major W. Prewett and Smith Prewett.  Very uncommon names.  Major and Smith are brothers…from Pittsylvania, Virginia!  They start paying taxes in Marion County by 1835 and move further west to Taylor County, Kentucky by 1850 where they end their days.

Major and Smith are sons of a man named William Prewett through his second wife, Jane.  This is the William who died in Pittsylvania, Virginia in 1830. He left a will that named all of his children, to include two sons from his first marriage, John and William.  William (Sr) was born in 1766, making him a peer of Washington County Joseph.  While Major and Smith clearly are brothers, I do not believe they are brothers of Meredith and Redmon.  However, they did have brothers named Joseph (b. 1798) and Allen.  And Major married a fellow Drain girl in 1835, while in Marion County.

If William (father of Major and Smith) from Pittsylvania, VA was born in 1766, and John Sr. is estimated as 1767 (if 20 when John Jr. was born), and Joseph’s birth is estimated between 1751-1760), it is possible they are all brothers making Joseph’s possible origins Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

Maybe, just maybe.

Draft Genealogical Summary:

Joseph Prewett was born between 1751 and 1760 in Virginia. The Redmon Prewitt bible states he was the husband of Polly. They were likely married between 1771 and 1780 (assuming an age of 20 for marriage and assuming Polly was his first wife). Joseph died a few months after Polly, on 20 December 1844 somewhere in Kentucky, probably Hardin County.

Joseph and Polly were the parents of Meredith, Redmon, and Nancy Prewitt. Joseph may also have been the father of Allen and James Prewitt. Additional children may still be identified based on early census households.

DNA matches suggest Joseph Prewett is related to the Prewitts of Pittsylvania County, Virginia who can be found in the Kentucky Counties of Taylor and Rockcastle.


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